Measuring substrate and/or product concentration can create a major bottleneck for synthetic and biosynthetic processes. To overcome this challenge we are interested in developing whole cell biosensors (WCBs). One example is the ability to detect biomass-derived aromatic chemical building blocks using allosteric transcription factors (aTFs). We recently developed a WCB that permits the detection of aromatic building blocks (e.g ferulic acid) derived from lignin biomass. This system operates via a repression depression mechanism utilising a marR aTF that results in the expression of a reporter gene (eGFP) in the presence of substrate. We are currently working with researchers in Brazil, and at the University of Warwick, to exploit this technology for the degradation and valorisation of sugarcane bagasse.

FerC

FerC

Machado, Dixon, Chem Commun 2016